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Tuesday, September 20th, 2011
Offensive sexist or racist language on social networking sites is dismissed by many young people as in the “just joking” category, a new Associated Press-MTV poll has found, but a significant minority are hurt by the language, particularly when they are part of the group being targeted.
The AP reports:
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Seventy-one percent say people are more likely to use slurs online or in text messages than in person, and only about half say they are likely to ask someone using such language online to stop.
“On Twitter, everybody’s getting hit hard. Nobody really cares about nobody’s feelings,” said Kervin Browner II, 20, a junior at Oakland University in Rochester, Mich. “You never know how bad it hurts people because they don’t say anything.”
But young people who use racist or sexist language are probably offending more people than they realize, even in their own age range. The poll of 14- to 24-year-olds shows a significant minority are upset by some pejoratives, especially when they identify with the group being targeted.
“It’s so derogatory to women and demeaning, it just makes you feel gross,” Lori Pletka, 22, says about “slut” and more vulgar words aimed at women. The Southeast Missouri State University senior said other terms regularly offend her online, too — slurs for black people, Hispanics, and gays or lesbians.
Fifty-five percent of those surveyed say they see people being mean to others on social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace. And 51 percent encounter discriminatory words or images on those sites.
But they mostly write off the slurs as jokes or attempts to act cool. Fifty-seven percent say “trying to be funny” is a big reason people use discriminatory language online. About half that many say a big reason is that people “really hold hateful feelings about the group.”
(image via: http://www.life123.com/)
Thursday, September 1st, 2011
A tough new law cracking down on school bullies takes effect today in New Jersey.
Called the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, the law was sparked by the suicide of Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi last year, The New York Times reports. Clementi jumped off a bridge after his college roommate secretly used a webcam to film him in bed with another man and stream it over the Internet.
Parents and educators welcome the effort to stop bullies, and supporters of the new law say it has to be tough to cope with kids who can now be especially mean and damaging on online sites like Facebook.
But some school administrators say the new rules are too strict to enforce properly. “I think this has gone well overboard,” Richard G. Bozza, executive director of the New Jersey Association of School Administrators, told The Times. “Now we have to police the community 24 hours a day. Where are the people and the resources to do this?”
Under the new law, school districts will be monitored and graded by the State Education Department on their efforts to deal with bullies, and each school must appoint a team to deal with bullying complaints. From the Times:
The law … orders principals to begin an investigation within one school day of a bullying episode, and superintendents to provide reports to [the State Education Department] twice a year detailing all episodes. Statewide, there were 2,846 such reports in 2008-9, the most recent year for which a total was available.
What do you think? Is this new law the right way to deal with bullies?
(image via: http://www.accessmovement.org)
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Monday, August 8th, 2011
A survey of recent research presented at the American Psychological Association’s annual meeting suggested that children who use social networks–a growing majority–face both emotional benefits and detriments from their screen time. CNN.com reports:
On the plus side: In a world full of distractions, social networking and technology can provide tools for teaching in a way that engages and captivates young minds. Online social networking can also help young people learn how to socialize with their peers; users also show more “virtual empathy.”
“It’s almost like social networks are training wheels for life in a lot of ways – it teaches you to express empathy and see how people respond,” [psychology professor Larry] Rosen said. “It teaches you to also just develop your sense of self of who you are. You float things out on a wall post on Facebook and then sit back and look at the comments that you get. It’s a place where you can grow and develop.”
However, the downside is becoming apparent, too. According to studies, middle school, high school and college students looking at Facebook at least one time during a 15-minute study break made lower grades. In addition, many young Facebook users show more tendencies to be narcissistic.
“It’s a continual onset of I, me, mine,” he said. “Your comments back and forth to people all reflect on you, not them.”
The new research suggests that overuse of media and technology can negatively affect health of children and teens, especially with psychological disorders- making users more likely to experience anxiety and depression.
“Everything you do on social networks, you’re doing behind the safety of a screen,” he said. “You’re not paying attention…there’s a real flesh and blood human being at the other end of cyberspace and your words might have consequences for that person.”
(image via: http://www.muscogeemoms.com)
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Thursday, August 4th, 2011
A new Missouri law signed last month takes what some call drastic steps to limit online interactions between teachers and students.
The Amy Hestir Student Protection Act, was passed with the aim of protecting students who had been sexually harassed by teachers, and preventing teachers who had sexually assaulted students from being transferred to different school districts. Nicknamed “The Facebook Law,” it contains the following provisions requiring schools to establish policies by January 1, 2012 regarding electronic media and student-teacher boundaries:
Each policy must include appropriate oral and nonverbal personal communication, which may be combined with sexual harassment policies, and appropriate use of electronic media as described in the act, including social networking sites.
No teacher shall establish, maintain, or use a work-related internet site unless such site is available to school administrators and the child’s legal custodian, physical custodian, or legal guardian.
No teacher shall establish, maintain, or use a nonwork-related internet site which allows exclusive access with a current or former student.
The law takes effect August 28. The Today Show’s website reports that some teachers think the law is overkill for what’s needed to ensure student safety:
Randy Turner, Joplin East Middle School communication arts teacher, wrote on her blog that “hundreds of teachers across the state who have effectively used Facebook and other social networking sites to communicate with students, and I am one of those, will have to trash years worth of work, because all teachers are potential criminals” in the view of the author of the bill, State Sen. Jane Cunningham.
“The teachers I know who communicate with students through Facebook have a large number of parents as ‘friends’ and most of the communication with students is done on the Facebook wall,” Turner wrote.
And, she noted, the bill went through “in spite of the positive effect that teachers and students being Facebook friends had on Joplin Schools’ effort to locate students after the May 22 tornado.”
(image via: http://www.johnhaydon.com/)
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Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011
Expectant parents can add their unborn child to their Facebook “Friends and Family” lists with a new tool that launched last week. According to Yahoo news, parents can now update their profiles by filling out an “Expected Child” field and entering due date, names, ultrasound pictures, and other information.
Previously, some excited parents created profile pages for their unborn children, which technically violates Facebook’s policy of requiring that users by at least 13 years of age.
Though many are likely to use and enjoy the new feature, some are urging caution because pregnancies do not always go according to plan. As one blogger writes:
The risk of a situation involving possibly hundreds of “friends” knowing details that turned out to be too tragic or personal to share is very great. Having a child is a very exciting thing to happen, but when there’s someone’s health at stake, it’s probably better to be extremely cautious and/or patient before making such an announcement on Facebook.
(image via: http://blogs.babble.com/)
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